Tuesday, January 30, 2007

a square of the airport

i watched the new york city skyline through the tiny window of my seat in 18-D on a flight to minneapolis. i gave up trying not to think of how i was leaving behind many of the people i love most in my life, and also a city that i’ve come to feel at home in.

new york as a place is full of paradoxes. it is so completely overwhelming that we listen to our ipods on the subway and the bus and so block out almost everything. the site of one of the greatest tragedies of this country turned into a tourist attraction. new york is where you can be whoever you want to be, and where i found a part of myself.

i met jason and julian for breakfast at a diner on the east side friday morning. it was a typical get-together of the three of us, one-liners, coffee, and a few introspective moments. it was good to see them. something about the easy companionship that comes from years of friendship settled my nerves about what was to come.

after breakfast we walked to the train, and i said goodbye to julian at 59th street. jason and i then caught up quickly before he got off the train at 23rd street. i continued riding to astor place, and ascended the familiar stairs with a sigh of satisfaction. i grabbed a seat in starbucks to wait for mollie, and passed the time by reading. when she arrived we hugged and got coffee and spent the following two and a half hours telling stories and making predictions about my semester in sydney. we took a short walk to st. mark’s so i could get new sunglasses, and then we parted ways by the RW train entrance at campus.

sandy made me hot chocolate soon after i walked in the door, and i wrapped myself in a blanket to read. i found that i couldn’t really concentrate- i was so anxious(in a good way) about seeing andrew a few hours later that i kept reading and rereading the same parapgraphs. finally i got up and began to get ready, deliberately moving slowly so that i didn’t have ten minutes to sit and be nervous before i had to leave.

i met andrew in his office’s lobby, and came up to see his cubicle. it was so unbelievably good to see him. his friend ricardo stopped by say hi and make plans to meet us for a drink later. andrew and i walked down to the subway and quickly fell into easy banter, as usual.

we arrived at the corner bistro, one of andrew’s favorite places, and as we walked in i was bombarded with the smell of beer and burgers, the sight of two small rooms straining to contain the patrons, and the sound of nine-to-fivers unwinding after a long week at work. andrew and i watched the soccer match while we waited for a table, and then caught up and laughed as we shared a burger and fries.

saturday i met leigh near times square, and stood hugging her in the middle of the street. she introduced me to her friends tyler and alice, and we grabbed food before going back to their hotel to hang out. andrew got there a couple of hours later, and after he had met leigh he and i left to go to dinner at dad’s.

we sat talking with dad and sandy for a while, and had just started eating when elise and nate finally showed up- their train was late. we were all throwing out one-liners and laughing, talking about politics, whatever. we finished dinner and i said goodbye to elise and nate before andrew, dad and i left to see spring awakening.

the show was amazing. completely my kind of music, and a story i could totally relate to in terms of growing up, dealing with life and love and how much of the time we have to do things we don’t want to.

andrew and i had omelets the next day, and then went to see smokin’ aces. when the movie was over we drove to dad’s and he waited in his car while i tried to put the playlists i had made for him onto his memory card, which didn’t work.

i came back down, and we said goodbye.

so now i’m sitting in minneapolis half way between home and home, and i’m thinking about goodbyes. i absolutely hate them. i start thinking about it way before it will happen, and then often can’t enjoy the last moments that i have with whomever i’m saying goodbye to. goodbyes used to mean promises of i’ll see you soon and not much thought, but these… these have been some of the most difficult of my life.

most of me wants to turn around and hop a plane to new york, call out surprise! as i walk in the door and watch your face light up as you realize that i wasn’t ready to leave you yet.

the grey seats blend into the grey walls and the grey carpet until msp becomes one continuing stretch of a place where i most severely do not want to be. saying goodbye has shocked me into realizing all over again just how much i need you, how much i care about you. some invisible thing caught in my throat when i left you and i found that i could not say what was in my heart. such a shame, for those are the things that i truly wanted you to hear.

i love you. i miss you. thank you.

i'm leaving your town again
and i'm over the ground that you've been spinning
and i'm up in the air, so baby hell yeah
oh honey i can see your house from here
if the plane goes down
well i remember where the love was found

i should be so lucky, even only 24 hours under your touch
you know i need you so much
i cannot wait to call you and tell you that i landed somewhere
and had you a square of the airport

'plane' - jason mraz

Friday, January 26, 2007

west third between thompson and sullivan

i'm finally back in new york. it's unbelievably good to be here. the sun was setting as we came in to land at laguardia, and it was such a great welcome back. i waited for the m60 and took it to lenox ave, then took the 3 train down to dad's place. when i walked in the door sandy had already ordered chinese food, and i scarfed it down. it was really nice to get to spend some time with just her- we rarely get to do that, and it was great, especially in the wake of her hip surgery.

after dinner sandy played me some really cool interviews with this teacher who wrote what sounds like an interesting book. i'll have to check it out. as i was all wrapped up in a blanket reading in the other room, she made me hot chocolate, and it was amazing- she uses ghiradelli or something and it's ridiculously good. it made me think of what i posted the other day about mom making me hot chocolate when i came in from playing in the snow.

andrew called and we made plans for tomorrow. i'm finally going to go see his office, and the actual office too, not just the lobby. andrew's good friend at work wants to say hi, so i get to be all official and have a visitor's pass.

as i was putting on my coat to go down to campus and meet brett, dad walked in the door and we chatted for a bit. it was a good thing he got home when he did, otherwise i probably wouldn't have seen him until saturday.

i finally got off the train at campus and walked the three blocks to washington square park where brett and i had agreed to meet. those blocks have never felt so long- i was frozen! brett wasn't there because i was late, so i called him and then walked down to his apartment, which is teeny tiny, but fabulously close to campus.

i've missed brett a lot. you know how sometimes you can in reality barely know someone, but you just get them, and they get you? we've only actually gotten the chance to hang out a few times because it was summer and then he was in italy, but we talk a lot and somehow have this crazy bond. we sat around his living room/photo studio and talked about everything- sydney, italy, exes, friends. somehow we started listening to country music and then brett dug into a coconut cream pie. not to stereotype, but when you look at brett, you don't think he probably likes country music but lord does he ever. rockin' out to keith urban. i was very proud. brett's a little ridiculous just like me. except, he's never gotten toothpaste in his eye and thinks it's weird to brush his teeth in the shower. but the point is, it was good to see him and i'm definitely going to make it a priority to see him again on sunday since we haven't actually been in the same city at the same time for 10 months.

today was a good day. tomorrow's going to be a good day, too. a cold one, but a good one.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

falling asleep to the sound of sirens

i leave for new york tomorrow. i don't remember being this excited about anything for a long time. even though this trip is goodbye, it's also going to be amazing.

i realized while i've been home over christmas that i actually miss the city itself. before i've always been itching to go back to school because i missed everyone. and i do miss everyone, a lot more, it turns out, than i ever thought i would(though that could be the impending 4 and a half month trip to sydney talking). but i miss the city. i miss the way the sun reflects off of astor apartments as i'm walking to class, waiting to buy a coffee at the metal carts on campus, walking into my crappy little apartment on seventh street after saying hi to the security guard on duty. i miss riding the subway, listening to my ipod and shutting everyone else out, spying random artwork on the sidewalks. i miss when people stop to ask for directions and i can show them that new yorkers actually aren't all rude. and i miss watching couples kissing on street corners, or sitting in the washington square park fountain with megan pretending to study but really just enjoying people watching.

i've been saying for so long that i don't want to live in new york after i graduate. and maybe i don't, i don't know. teaching in new york sucks because new teachers are always put in the worst schools with the worst pay for the most work. but sometimes i think i'd really like it. i know it's cheesy but, part of why i want to teach is because i want to help kids- whether that means giving them the basic skills to read and write well, teaching them to love literature and use it to explore their world, or being a friend to them- become the best they can be. maybe new york is a good place for me to do that. in any case, i'm glad i've still got two years left there.

the thing about new york is that it takes you by surprise. once megan and i were sitting in the fountain and the sun was setting behind the buildings, and it turned the arch(made of white marble) this amazing pinky-orange color. and this december andrew and i were walking back to my apartment from his company's christmas party in union square, and as we skirted the park i looked up and saw the moon shining so brightly that i almost had to shield my eyes. that is the only time i remember seeing the moon in new york city, and it was more beautiful to me then than any of the harvest moons i've seen at home.

so even though the m60 ride back to the city and then the 2 train down to dad's promise to be slow and annoying, i can't help but think that i'm probably going to smile like an idiot every so often because, well, i'm in new york.

Monday, January 22, 2007

i put on my overcoat and walked into winter

it snowed again early this morning, and i have to grudgingly admit that it looks gorgeous. especially with all the evergreens in our yard, and the relatively big(not really actually, but i'm used to new york) expanses with no tracks. part of me really wishes that i still had my powder blue snow suit, and that when i came inside from playing that mom would make me cocoa that's way too hot to drink in my garfield cup(also long gone). i miss mom letting us stay up late or getting us up early to watch the weather report in hopes of a snow day. i remember a few times when she didn't even wake us up and just let us sleep since we didn't have school.

it reminds me of that huge snow storm that new york had last february. liam was visiting then, and we went to central park and played in the snow. i remember he was so excited because it was only the second time he'd ever seen snow, and he'd never seen it fall. it was kinda nice that after 3 years of hating it because i had to drive and walk in it, i got to see it through his eyes and remember how much i loved it.

there were a ton of little kids and their parents sledding that day, and having snowball fights. liam ended up just jumping in a huge snow drift, which was in retrospect a bad idea because he didn't even have a real winter coat, and only jeans and sneakers. he used to ask me why i got a coffee on the way home from class all the time, but as soon as he was out in that cold for more than a short walk, he didn't have to ask.

so, maybe my love for snow has come back to life a little bit. that being said, it is also absolutely FREEZING here, and i'm completely regretting packing away my tights. i think i might go crazy from lack of heat.

it's summer in sydney- i cannot wait.

they've got their mothers worked into a panic
sledding down hills into oncoming traffic
and parents layer clothes until their children couldn't move
then they let them outside until their noses were blue
and i got left there, too

'i was a kaleidoscope' - death cab for cutie

Thursday, January 18, 2007

words and music by...

i got my tickets today for my flight to sydney. how weird to be holding pieces of paper that represent the next five months of my life. i can't believe it's actually happening.

today my ipod randomly(we're talking out of 5000 songs here) played three of my songs in a row, and then one that had been written for me. the weirdest thing about it was that the last of my songs and the one about me were about the same experience, but from our two points of view. brett and i were talking about perception and the self the other night, and i made the simple(and obvious) observation that you perceive someone as one way, then something happens to change it or they act a way you didn't expect, and you must revamp what you think about that person. each new experience with them gives you a little more insight into how they perceive themselves, and i feel like that is what understanding is- you can see them how they see themselves.

that coupled with the thing with my ipod, made me think.

writing is hard. writing a song can take weeks or even months just to get one line, can wake you in the middle of night fully formed, or can come out of you one stanza at a time until it's completed. i've never been able to sit down and say 'i'm going to write a song', let alone to specify what it will be about. when i've tried to do that i'm just never happy with it, and it doesn't say the things i'm trying to convey or sound the way i want. it feels forced-is forced- and when i write without purpose or intention, i find that that there is much more of me in the music, and that that me is a lot barer.

it's so interesting to me how even words, which have clear definitions, can mean so many different things for different people. i'm often afraid to play my songs if there's anyone i'm close to in the audience because writing a song, playing a song, makes you very vulnerable. and perhaps the only thing that makes you more so is when you're playing it for the person it's about. i've had that experience twice and was scared as shit both times. and usually i feel like if i made some big speech they wouldn't really want to hear it, but that if it's in a song there's somehow less pressure- that they'll perceive what i'm saying the way i want them to. my whole idea behind it is, if they hear it maybe they'll be a bit little bit closer to understanding the way i feel and seeing me the way i see myself. because there are few things, if any, more personal than music.

i guess i'm just hoping that the next time i play a song for the person i wrote it for, they understand a little more.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

how strange, innocence

i was thinking today about what i was like when i was younger. i don't really remember having much of a sense of who i was or what was going on in my life. i thought about how much i didn't know- about loving, laughing, pain- and how most of the time we don't even recognize that we're learning about ourselves and the people in our lives.

i thought today, and still right now, about who i was a year ago, how i felt, what i thought, how i acted and reacted. and i think about who i am now, and what i've been through in the last year. it's been an interesting one, with a lot of hard lessons. many of which i've had to learn time and time again, and sometimes i realize that i STILL don't know them.

my head is full of thoughts and memories and lyrics to songs. sometimes i feel that though words are soon to be my life's work and have been my hobby for years, i have no idea how to say most of what's in my heart.

part of me longs for when things were simpler, when i could say 'i love you' without hesitation, and make a mistake without fear. when the unknown was not cause for anxiousness, and when the past didn't complicate the present.

then again, i think about how things are now- that 'i love you' seems to have more weight and true emotion behind it, that mistakes are scary but that each one teaches me something about myself. how the unknown is approaching fast and it makes me both anxious and excited, and how the past... the past reminds me that i am on a journey, and not at my destination.

innocence is defined as a lack of guile or corruption; purity. how strange that though most of us think we don't possess it, by definition, we do.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

i do go to nyu, after all

i realized today that andrew's facebook profile almost entirely consists of a list of bands he likes.

life is good.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

not much to do with oz, but...

so, i'm reading this book about australia still, and i really like it. it's nice to learn about the place that i'm leaving for a month from today.

ed just yelled at me because andrew got mad at him today for doing something he knows andrew hates. well DUH. i mean, ed's smart, he went to nyu, you'd think that after 50 million times the kid could grasp a concept as simple as not doing something he knows will piss andrew off. but whatever, i'll just swoop in and save andrew from him for the weekend that i'm there, and then ed can hate me all he wants because i will be gone gone gone to the land of oz.

my second thought, well, third, is that i'm concerned about andrew's birthday present. well, the part he doesn't know about, anyway. i've had the idea in my head for the last couple of months, but just couldn't make it right. and now i'm really happy with it but the problem is, will andrew like it. hopefully he'll understand the effort and care that went into it, for some reason i'm still nervous about it. i shouldn't be though- he's pretty damn thoughtful himself, so much so that it teeters on the point of amazing, so i'm banking on his recognizing that in my gift. it kinds of sucks because it's something that has a lot of me in it, and if he doesn't like it it might be pretty crushing. but this one... this one had to be this personal for it to work. so we'll see. lucky man gets it almost 2 weeks before his birthday because i won't be in the city on the actual day.

i just realized that i said a whole lot of nothing because only a few people actually know what the present is, and most have no idea about the whole me-andrew-ed dynamic. maybe i should just go back to writing interesting things that i learn about australia.

80% of all that lives in australia, plant or animal, exists nowhere else.

Friday, January 12, 2007

in a sunburned country

so today i started reading this book that dad got me for christmakuh called 'in a sunburned country' by bill bryson. it's about traveling through australia. here's what i discovered on page 6:

It is the home of the largest living thing on earth, the Great Barrier Reef, and of the largest monolith, Ayers Rock(or Uluru to use its now-official, more respectful Aboriginal name). It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world's ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures- the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish- are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will nojust sting you but actually sometimes GO for you. Pick up an innocuous cone shell from a Queensland beach, as innocent tourists are all too wont to do, and you will discover that the little fellow inside is not just astoundingly swift and testy but exceedingly venomous. If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback. It's a tough place.

no shit.

boy am i excited.

*disclaimer: seriously though, while this sounds scary, i won't actually be encountering these things unless i go to taronga zoo or to queensland or something, and even then, i'll probably a) be with native australians who can recognize such animals/things, or b) remember this passage and be scared as hell to touch anything. so no worries, it's not as dangerous as the book makes it sound. well, it is, but, i won't be in those places.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

fun facts!

so i thought i'd inform you all a bit about australia, because, well, i'm a nerd and figure that context is usually a good thing. so here's what i've discovered:

-depending on the amount of digits in a phone number, you can tell if it's a business or a cell or home phone... businesses have 8 digits. weird. guess you can spell more that way. those aussies, they like to do the our thing, like 'colour'. talk about british decent.

-there are 47 species of kangaroo, with the Red Kangaroo being the largest- a male, called a red flyer, can be 2 meters(that's about 6 feet, for us metric-system challenged americans). they travel in packs, led by the strongest male(called a boomer). females are called blue flyers because of the bluish tinge to their fur, and usually have one baby, called a joey, after only 33 days of pregnancy(if only we were that lucky!) the newborn remains in the mother's pouch for up to 8 months, however, so it's pretty much the same thing.

-australia is the 6th largest country in the world and the only one that is it's own continent. it has approximately 7000 beaches and one of the most varied landscapes in the world.

-the sydney harbor bridge was opened in 1932, and is 1,149 meters long. when the two sides of the bridge were about to be joined, one side was about a foot higher than the other. ha!

-the sydney opera house has been open since 1973 and took 15 years to build. there is a movement to renovate the inside so that it matches the architect's original plan. it is host to comedians, musical acts, and much more.

-the great barrier reef, located in northern queensland, is 1250 miles and has over 1000 islands.

-australia's mainland has been inhabited for over 42,000 years by indigenous peoples. they arrived by crossing landbridges from what is now southeast asia. it was settled by the british in 1770, one of the better known of fwhom is captain james cook. it's capital is canberra, and the country's population is 20.6 million.

-the name australia is derived from the latin 'australis', meaning 'of the south.' legends of an "unknown land of the south" (terra australis incognita) dating back to roman times were commonplace in mediƦval geography, but they were not based on any actual knowledge of the continent.

-the koala rarely drinks water, because the eucalyptus leaves it feeds on provide it with nearly enough of it's agua supply. koalas are not bears(though many people think so), the are in the marsupial family along with kangaroos and wombats. they're vicious, though.

-the platypus is a duck-billed mammal that lays eggs. it is one of the few venomous mammals, the male of which has ankle spurs that release a chemical composition unique the the platypus. the venom is only fatal to small animals, but causes extreme pain and incapacitation to all(including us!)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

so i figured...

i realized today that, well, anticipation is half the fun. so i decided that i'd write some before i even leave for sydney because that way, well, we can all get excited.

i'm excited.

i'm more excited, however, to be going back to new york in two weeks to see everyone. especially because brett is back from italy and i haven't seen him since last may... far too long without bretterson. and leigh will be in the city that weekend, which is pretty much the best coincidence ever. and andrew and mike just moved into a new place in jersey so i get to take a field trip to see it. i won't get to see a lot of camp people before i go, but, usually i don't see them during the year anyway. still sad not to get to see them, but also, customary.

until then though, i'm working. and working. and hanging out with sami and krystle and folks here. and oh yeah, did i mention working? mom and don are gone until thursday and it's like everyone in the cedar valley knew it and decided to come to the diner and make the waitstaff(and me) crazy. but hey, it happens. 10 bucks that when they get back we'll have the slowest weekend ever.

the point is, i generally spend most days with my excitement at going back to new york and then to sydney just bubbling away in the background and putting me in a good mood. so you should be excited too. 'cause it'll be like you're living it, i promise. pictures and everything.

get excited!

also, i just realized that i said the word 'excited' probably too many times, so feel free to utilize a thesaurus and replace it with any of the following: thrilled, exhilarated, enthusiastic, psyched, etc....